Clubfoot deformity is a condition that about 1 in every 1000 infants are born with, boys being twice at risk as girls. The condition is commonly detected as early as a prenatal ultrasound and presents as one or both feet being turned inward or out of place. Commonly, the affected leg is shorter than the non-affected leg, and the calf muscles remain underdeveloped. While the condition is painless for infants, it can impair their ability to walk as they grow.
What Causes Clubfoot?
The exact cause for Clubfoot Deformity remains unknown, however there are a variety of contributing factors that can increase a child’s risk for Clubfoot Deformity. Some of them include:
• Any immediate family members having been born with it
• Smoking tobacco during pregnancy
• Infant not being surrounded by enough amniotic fluid in utero
• Any other musculoskeletal abnormalities at birth can also contribute
Complications If Left Untreated
If a child’s Clubfoot is left untreated, it can lead to several more severe complications. Most prominent, the difficulty to walk due to the unnatural bend of the ankle can cause the child to compensate by learning to walk on the sides or balls of their feet. This can create additional problems down the road. Another complication of untreated clubfoot is the increased risk of later being diagnosed with arthritis. Finally, the deformity can cause a poor self-image in the child as they get older and compare themselves to their peers.
Ideally, treatment begins shortly after birth. There are many treatment options available, so it is important to talk to a specialist to determine the best choice for your child.
- Non-Surgical Options:
The Ponseti Method is the most common method of choice, and is characterized by gentle stretching and casting to slowly resolve the deformity. Usually, once the casting process is complete, the child will still be required to wear a brace, sometimes for up to several years.
- Surgical Options:
Generally, stretching and casting prove to be successful and surgery isn’t necessary. Although in more severe cases of Clubfoot, major reconstruction of the tendons and joints is needed for full correction. Surgery can sometimes involve the placement of pins and screws to help keep the foot in place, and may need to be replaced as the child’s body grows.
If your infant has been diagnosed with Clubfoot Deformity, contact Iowa Ortho. Our pediatric orthopedic specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Farber, is well-versed in the treatment of the condition. Call our office at 515-247-8400 to schedule an appointment.